Historical Events You Didn't Realize Were Happening Around The Globe While Slavery Existed In The US
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Historical Events You Didn't Realize Were Happening Around The Globe While Slavery Existed In The US

The United States condoned slavery for centuries, and the institution, which forced thousands of African Diaspora descendants to work under inhumane conditions for free, was considered just. In fact, many people refused to accept abolition because they feared economic and personal losses. While America struggled with abolition, though, other nations embraced revolution. Some individuals produced outstanding works of art; others invented. There was even a mighty volcanic eruption that affected almost every nation.

These historical events aren't less significant because they occurred during the same time period as American slavery; instead, they present a much more complete picture of the world.

  • Charles Darwin Published 'On The Origin Of Species' 

    Biologist Charles Darwin started a five-year journey on the HMS Beagle and traveled throughout South America. While studying a plethora of living creatures, Darwin developed theories about life and biological diversity. After an additional two decades of research to strengthen and test his ideas, Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. His theories revolutionized the science world and remain highly accurate more than 150 years later.

    Many people misunderstood Darwin's work, though. In the decades following his studies, scientists like Benjamin K. Hays used Darwin's words to rationalize racial inequality. Darwin was anti-slavery, however, and he even learned taxidermy from a formerly enslaved person.

  • Baseball Became The American Pastime

    Though people played iterations of baseball in America for decades, the New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club likely played the first true baseball game in 1846. The sport skyrocketed to popularity and quickly spread across the country. While the first professional teams didn't form until after the Civil War, baseball earned the title of America's national pastime in 1856.

    Despite the game's popularity in Black, immigrant, and working-class communities, the sport stayed segregated for a long time. Both amateur and professional leagues separated players of color throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in a major league team, didn't join the Dodgers until 1947. 

  • Photography Became Commonplace

    Primitive cameras existed in the early 1800s, but none of those devices could produce permanent photographs until 1822. That year, Frenchman Nicéphore Nièpce succeeded in developing the first real photographs in France. Throughout the 1830s and '40s, other people like Louis Daguerre and William Fox Talbot refined the process, making photographs more detailed and easier to reproduce. The first press photograph appeared in an 1848 magazine and began a new era of documentary journalism.

    The power of photography was key to the abolitionist movement in the United States. Frederick Douglass posed for at least 160 photos, hoping to demonstrate the humanity of Black Americans.

  • Telegraphs Became Standard

    Until the 1840s, long-distance communication was an arduous process; people relied solely on postal service couriers. The telegraph's invention is attributed to several people: Sir William Cooke and Sir Charles Wheatstone in England, as well as Samuel Morse, Leonard Gale, and Alfred Vail in the United States. The electric telegrpah sent encoded messages through wires. In 1844, Morse sent a message from Washington, DC, to Baltimore, MD. The invention revolutionized communication, allowing people to share important news within minutes. Telegraph lines emerged all around the country, and the first transcontinental line finished in 1861

    These wire-relayed messages played an important part in the Civil War by allowing coordination among isolated military leaders. When leading a failed revolt that helped fuel the Civil War, John Brown's first strategic move was to cut the telegraph lines

  • Charles Dickens Wrote Many Of His Famous Books

    The 19th century is sometimes considered the birthplace of modern literature, and author Charles Dickens is partially responsible for that. His novels A Christmas CarolOliver Twist, and Great Expectations, which were published from 1837 to 1861, heavily influenced Western culture. Moreover, Dickens's works were popular on both sides of the Atlantic, and he is regarded as one of the most famous artists of his time.

    However, the author often stereotyped Jewish people. Though he attempted to mend his ways later in life, his literature played a part in the European dehumanization of Jewish people. He was also sympathetic to British imperialism, considering colonized people to be "savages."

  • Haiti Gained Independence From France During The Haitian Revolution

    In 1791, political turmoil in the French colony, St. Domingue, came to a head. Led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, the African descendants abandoned the local sugar and coffee plantations and revolted. A complex civil conflict began, and it didn't officially end until 1804. The colony, which became Haiti, gained independence and separation from French ideals. Black Haitians were the sole rulers in the newly liberated land.

    American plantation owners reacted poorly to the Haitian Revolution. And Thomas Jefferson even used his authority as a Democratic-Republican leader to suppress and isolate L’Ouverture. Interestingly, when John Adams won the presidency, he sent the Haitian liberator aid. In the end, though, the United States did not recognize Haiti as a nation until 1862.